Black Bird wins Vanuatu invitational football tournament
Vanuatu club side Ifira Black Bird FC has won the Vanuatu Friendship Cup ahead of a top Australian football side.
The inaugural Friendship Cup in Port Vila featured Central Coast Mariners, the Vanuatu national team and a Vanuatu development squad.
The Mariners included Vanuatu captain Brian Kaltak.
Ifira Black Bird won the first prize of $US4,200 with the Mariners taking $US2,100.
The winning side defeated the Mariners and the development side, and drew 0-0 with the Vanuatu national team.
The Mariners hailed the week-long tournament despite the “difficult pitch conditions”.
“Heavy rainfall and humidity meant the young squad experienced conditions unlike anything they had seen before,” a club spokeperson said.
“The trip acted as the perfect opportunity to give everyone in the squad valuable minutes before the commencement of the A-League season, with head coach Nick Montgomery changing the squad for each of the matches.”
During their time in the country the Mariners players visited many local villages to pass on their skills.
New professional football league being formed
The Oceania Football Confederation has approved plans for the formation of an OFC Professional League.
Following the decision, the confederation will advance plans to kick off the league in 2025.
OFC President Lambert Maltock said the league would play a crucial role in elevating the sport throughout Oceania.
“As leaders of Oceania football, we are responsible for the growth of football, and we need to move forward to make this happen,” Maltock said.
The formation of the competition will support the OFC’s long-term goal of qualifying two teams to the FIFA World Cups in 2026 for the men and 2027 for the women.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino last month pledged FIFA’s support for the concept at the OFC 28th Ordinary Congress in Auckland.
“The advent of the OFC Professional League is an important step in helping to raise the profile of club football across the Oceania region,” Infantino said.
“I see it as a win-win for the development of not only club football, but also to help reinforce the development of national team football across the entire region.
Samoa Games medallist making pro debut in Apia
Commonwealth Games boxing silver medallist Ato Plodzicki-Faoagali makes his professional debut tonight in Apia.
The heavyweight, who defeated Niue’s Duken Tutakitoa-Williams to reach the final in Birmingham this year, faces Fijian Apisai Naciqa at the Tuanaimato Faleata Sports Complex.
Naciqa has fought five times, winning only two of them and being knocked out in each of the three defeats.
Plodzicki-Faoagali said during the media conference that he was looking to end the fight early.
Fellow Samoan Marion Faustino Ah Tong, who also competed at the Commonwealth Games, will make his pro debut too.
He has been pitted against another Fijian, Ratu Rakuro, in the super-welterweight division.
Ah Tong and Faoagali have been training together in Australia in preparation for their professional debuts.